Dear PoPville – Question about Serving on DC Commissions and Advisory Committees (Not ANCs)

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“Dear PoPville,

There was recent story on WTOP about hundreds of DC Commission and Advisory Committee seats which are unfilled. These are mayorally appointed positions on committees that advise the Mayor and the agencies on various issues. I’m wondering if any of your readers have experiences serving on these boards under the current or previous administrations and how valuable of an experience it was for them.

I’ve been looking for a way to serve the City, where I’ve lived for six years, and I this could be a great opportunity. I’ve thought about running for ANC, but that’s a larger commitment with the campaigning etc. I would be well qualified for the committees I apply for and whether the Mayor picks me or not is another story, but If anyone has served on a board or commission before, I’d love to hear about the experience. Were the opinions of the boards actually taken into consideration? Are they just used for political cover? Was it worth your time?”

Anyone serve on or are familiar with DC Commission and Advisory Committee seats? Not to be a cynic but I’m guessing many of these appointments are probably politically motivated?

11 Comment

  • They are all politically motivated, in fact. Mayor Gray has given no indication that he would fill any committee seats with anyone other than politically-connected cronies who are more often than not underqualified, if not entirely unqualified.

  • I don’t know about committee seats but I served on a board that heard appeals from people who had received adverse rulings in various administrative matters. The matters included denials of security guard licenses, fines for illegal dumping, nuisance property notices, etc. That particular board doesn’t exist anymore because its duties were taken over by an administrative law judge.
    The process of selection was not political at all. A friend recommended me to the head of the Board, I sent a letter and resume, was interviewed, and selected. For what it’s worth, this was during the Williams administration.

  • Do you have to be American to be appointed/nominated? I’m a furriner, I was hoping to be able to vote before I’m 40, but not a chance now. As a result, I am itching to have some sort of voice.

  • I attended a presentation by Ron Collins, who is head of the Office of Boards and Commissions. There are maany vacancies and he was strongly encouraging people to apply. I think it’s a great way to get involved and see things from a different perspective. The website with information about the opportunities can be found here.

    • Sign me up for Acupuncture Advisory Committee please!

      I really do think it’s cool citizens can be on boards and I am interested in joining some, but I can kinda see why there are some vacancies.

    • I’ve applied for various boards twice. Never heard anything back. I’m not upset to not be selected (if there were more qualified people, fine, and if I was so bad that they figured an empty spot was better, okay) but at least they could have sent a rejection letter.

  • andy

    I think you should host a fundraiser for whoever our next mayor is and then go from there.

  • Speaking of getting appointed to commissions, DC may have its own Elizabeth Warren situation coming up.
    Gray nominated Elizabeth Noel to be on the board of the Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities. However Noel, the former District People’s Counsel, was a consumer advocate involved in litigation against utilities, and now a regulated utility has shown opposition to her appointment, surprise surprise. So there certainly can be politics involved in the process. Though probably less so for the Acupuncture Advisory Committee…

  • Interesting…but I wonder if the level of frustration would be tolerable?

  • My wife served one a board in the past. Many of the “better” commissioners are politically motivated (i.e., ABRA, Taxi – the ones that pay or require Council confirmation). But the city usually is very motivated to fill the positions and it is pretty simple – you fill out an application and meet with Ron Collins and discuss your interest. My wife got an appointment to a lesser board, but still found it to be very valuable at getting her a much better job in the private sector.

  • I actually sit on a board and at times I wonder “what have I gotten myself into,” you do make decisions that impact citizens and license holders (license as in license to practice medicine/veterinary/acupuncture etc). Even the most job specific boards need a consumer member/general public person. However, it has fulfilled my desire to be more civic minded, helped me stay in the loop of things that matter in my field and I have seen more on how gov’t really works (good, bad and semi-ugly). I’m glad Ron Collins is actively engaging the public to recruit board members. It’s a shame that so many boards are not fully seated. Different view points are needed to make sure boards are not “hijacked” and fulfill their mission statements.
    I do think politics matter in a slight way. When I was interviewed by the head of Boards and Commissions (and it wasn’t Ron Collins) I was asked a question about if I supported Fenty and how did I think he was doing as mayor. Technically you are working under the mayoral branch so wearing your green Fenty shirt during the interview would not be wise. But do I think you have to grease any hands to get a seat? No, at least not for the unpaid positions. Please apply!

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